Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Marching Band Requires Physical Stamina – Should it Be Considered a Sport?

The physical demands of a competitive marching band require its members to be in get in shape and stay in shape. During the weeks Summer vacation, marching bands practice hours in the sun teaching their freshman the fundamentals of marching. This rigor continue through the marching band season.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, sport means an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. This can encompass a variety of activities, ranging from football to baseball, soccer to lacrosse, and cheer to dance team. Few, however, consider marching band a “real” sport.

“People quickly criticize marching band as physical activity for those who aren’t physically fit to play a sport,” said senior David Navarro, a member of Beckman’s marching band. “What people don’t understand is the physical and mental stress the band must undergo in carrying heavy instruments for miles on a parade route while staying in line with each other, wearing wool uniforms and heavy hats under the blazing sun.”

On a parade-route, marching band requires its members to be able to play their memorized music at an expert-level on instruments weighing up to 40 pounds, while marching in step and maintaining perfect ranks, files and diagonals, and keeping consistent horn and hat angles. On the field, students march at a significantly faster tempo, sometimes up to 180 beats per minute, while playing instruments and constantly blowing all of their air through the instrument. It is not unlike running a mile at a constant fast pace while holding weights (instruments) at an exact angle and performing set drills.

Marguerite Nguyen, a sophomore at Beckman appreciates the music that comes from the marching band’s rehearsals after school during her lacrosse practice.

“I think marching band is definitely under-appreciated, but not to the extent that we often see in movies. The marching band brings spirit to all the sporting events, and is even motivating during practice. Based on what I’ve actually seen during practice, they work just as hard as everyone else,”

Madeline Buehlmeyer, who has been in Foothill’s marching band for two years, considers marching band a sport based on the physical activity and dedication it requires.

“I consider marching band a sport, we train just as hard as any athlete. About every Saturday we have competitions judged on physical and musical traits. we have morning practices from 7-9 and 2 days after school from 3-4:30, more than many other sports.”

Physical activity is constant along with the skill to be able to play a memorized repertoire of music and remember drills on the field. As far as competition, drum majors’ compete in their own categories (individual) while the marching band and Color Guard have their own competitions (team). Together, they help the entire band’s showmanship scores. A field show is used for the sole purpose of entertainment encompassing a particular theme and is most often performed during football halftime shows and at competition, while thousands of people go out to watch bands at parades.

Marching band gets you PE credit, in many cases a varsity letter, and directly meets the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of sport.

So, therefore, marching band clearly fits under the definition of the term “sport,” don’t you think?

Please leave your comments here.

About Sabrina Santoro

Sabrina Santoro is a student at Beckman High School. She loves writing for the Beckman Chronicle and playing in her school's marching band and jazz ensemble. Sabrina has dreamt of being a journalist ever since she can remember, and plans to pursue a career in that field. She writes for High School Illustrated as part of our internship program.

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  1. I defiantly believe that marching and should be included as a sport! I’ve been in competitive band since last year when I was in PIT with our drumline. I’ve marched for two seasons and remembering back to cross country, the physical fundamentals of marching band alone (which can last up to an hour and a half) was more physically demanding than an entire cross country practice (which lasted about 3 hours not including warm up and stretches). I simply do not understand what the world has against marching band. Cheerleading and bowling are considered sports in Indiana but marching band/drumline/winter guard is just a side-show to the main event. I’ve really hurt by this accusation. Some bands might be like that but I sure as heck know my band isn’t!

    • So true!!! People always brush off Marching Band as some circus act or whatever. We work hard too! Do people know the pain we endure? It’s not just marching, nooooooo. I have to run laps around the school, do push-ups, planks, and much more! And I’ve been forced to go though hours of hard work under the sun without water! Hours! This sport requires much hard work and dedication. And what’s unfair is that we respect football players, but they don’t respect us! We’re not nerds, jocks!!! Love your comment, BTW.

  2. I definitely think Marching Band should be considered a sport! Just band camp alone is 9 hours a day for two weeks! (At my school) I’m in the color guard. We practice about 11.5 hours a week. I think it’s unfair to count marching band and color guard as just a band group. I think it’s not right to count cheerleading as a sport when they only practice so many hours a week for a four minute dance/cheer, when we practice this much for an 8+ minute show!

    • Now that is debatable, i understand where you are coming from but cheerleading is also hard too. they go on through the whole football game with flips and cheers. They work just as hard as us.

  3. I play contra…………………..it’s a sport.

  4. victoria brown

    Right! We need respect! Its a demanding task….physically and mentally demanding! Never forget that….now if only others who think so less of us could spend a day in our shoes…they would view us differently

  5. Erasmo Concepcion

    I have a child in marching band and drumline and would like to see some of the jocks do what these kids do. Marching Band and Drum Line should be considered a sport.

    • Drumline and heavy low brass/heavy woodwind (Bari sax, Sousaphone/Marching Tuba) do have difficult jobs, unless it’s cymbals in drumline. I’m about 5ft 2 and 130 pounds, I March a 40 pound Sousaphone and yeah it’s tiring but it’s not terrible like I’d still rather March the 4 mile Toronto parade on sousa (which I have) than run a mile in school.

  6. I honestly think marching band is more demanding than most sports. We have to have the stamina to march a whole show in at least 6 min. Band members have to keep their body facing the judges, and switch their hips to go different directions. We have to play instruments and sustain notes and some spin flags. Marching band definitely be a sport.

  7. Wait… it’s considered a P.E. Credit in some schools? I played Tenor Sax last year in MB, and am now doing pit.

  8. If you put anybody who is a critique of marching band in band camp for one day with a contra in 110 degree heat, they will quickly change their mind, and that’s a fact.

  9. Cool article about marching bad. I had no idea that students mach sometimes up to 180 beats per minute. It would be interested to visually see how many beats or minute could completely change the march and how it’s performed.

  10. My band practices 3:45-6:15 4 days a week, 3:45-7:15 1 day a week, and on Saturdays, 9-5 if we don’t have a competition. Our only day off is Sunday. That’s 21 and a half hours a week. Last week, we practiced during fall break 9-5 all days. I don’t want to hear anything about how other sports work harder.

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